Opinion — Review of “Don’t Worry Darling”


Joleigh Martinez/NW

DISAPPOINTING – Olivia Wilde’s much-anticipated film, “Don’t Worry Darling” has fallen short of expectations. One actor’s brilliant performance and the movie’s arthouse aesthetics fail to make up for a costar’s poor acting and a lack of substance in the plot.

Jakob Ross, Contributing Writer

Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling” is a puzzle without any connecting pieces. 

The horror/thriller has been ranked high on my list of anticipated movies for this year since filming began in 2020. With a star-studded cast including Florence Pugh and Chris Pine, movie fanatics (like me) could not help but add “Don’t Worry Darling” to their watchlist.

The film follows Annie, who is played by Pugh, as she navigates her repetitious, boring and secluded life as a housewife in the California suburbs during the 1950s. As Annie aimlessly tends to her husband, Jack (who is played by Harry Styles), she soon realizes that their perfect life together may not be all that it seems.

Considering this is a spoiler-free review, I will try to explain my dissatisfaction with this film without giving too much information away. 

While the concept of “Don’t Worry Darling” is excellent, any casual viewer can see where the film is going within the first 20 minutes thanks to its incredibly predictable plot. This predictability was a shock to me, considering Wilde’s first film, “Booksmart,” was far more original and an excellent take on the traditional high school coming-of-age comedy.

This second film, however, felt like a poorly thought-out mash-up of other films like “Get Out” and “The Truman Show” – stealing stylistic elements and ideas that these earlier films have already coined as their own.

“Don’t Worry Darling” is, disappointingly, a textbook case of the sophomore slump. 

Pugh is undoubtedly the star of the show and a perfect pick for this kind of role. Considering her horror film background, including a leading role in the nightmarish “Midsommar,” it is no surprise that Pugh delivered here. She is electrifying on screen and delivers one of the best performances of her career. 

Styles is surprisingly dull and has a low-energy performance as Jack, although he ends up going too over the top at a certain point in the film, making it feel like a comedy. When at the theater, people in the audience were audibly laughing at his performance. Styles’ acting makes you realize why Christopher Nolan gave him very few lines in “Dunkirk.” 

“Don’t Worry Darling” teases many themes but never achieves the height of the social commentary it is aiming toward. With too many ideas and not enough time, the film’s editing style is so choppy and fast that it is hard to digest.

And while the choice in editing style is explained after the film’s “big reveal,” viewers cannot help but feel exhausted after the hour and a half of nonsense that was endured. This makes it hard to appreciate Wilde’s central message.

If done well, this concept would make an amazing film. 

While on the press tour for this film, Harry Styles memorably said, “My favorite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a movie. It feels like a real, like, you know, ‘go to the theater film movie.’” 

And yes, Harry, it does feel like a movie. That is about all it has going for it.

While this downward spiral of pure arthouse insanity is fun to watch, what it boils down to is style over substance. This would not be an issue for me if the film genuinely had something to say. 

“Don’t Worry Darling” has all the icing but very little cake.

Grade: 5/10